At the start of this month, a campaign was put into action – one designed to raise awareness about a new form of targeted harassment on Twitch livestreaming platform: “hate raids.” Those taking part in the one-day boycott demanded better tools to help combat bad actors on the platform. At the time, evading bans was far too simple, as you needed only an email address to create an account (and it didn’t always have to be a unique one).
The boycott itself had a debatable impact on Twitch’s bottom line, but many speculated that the newfound buzz surrounding the issue was what the boycott was really after. And with the upcoming rollout of a new policy, it seems like that speculation rings true.
Twitch will be giving all creators the ability to lock their chat away from anyone whose account doesn’t have a verified phone number. A German Twitch streamer was able to dig up what this tool would look like:
Bei @Twitch werden die Sicherheitsoptionen für Chats deutlich erweitert.
Streamer können dann bald voraussetzen, dass Chatter eine Telefonnummer brauchen, je nachdem, wie alt die Accounts sind/wie lange sie folgen.
Man kann da auch Ausnahmen für VIPs/Mods/Subs einstellen.
— Dracon (@DraconTV) September 26, 2021
A tool like this is almost exactly what those behind the #ADayOffTwitch boycott were looking for – it’s not something forced upon all users, it’s a feature that streamers can add to their toolbelt. And since phone numbers are far harder to produce than email addresses, this should be a powerful step in the war against ban evasion. In addition, Streamers can also configure things such that long-time viewers, even those without a phone number linked to their account, remain unaffected. Long-time fans of a given streamer wouldn’t be impacted, but fresh accounts made to evade a ban would be. While the mission to make online spaces safer for marginalized groups is far from over, this is undoubtedly a major lead forward.